Unemployment report to show slight rise: expert

MAKING ADJUSTMENTS::One expert suggested that the government focus on structural unemployment issues, rather than focus just on jobless figures

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Oct 22, 2012 - Page 13

Taiwan’s jobless rate for last month will likely show a slight increase, on the heels of the recent mass layoffs by major technology and media enterprises, labor experts said yesterday ahead of an official jobs report due to be released today.

Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控) chief economist Rick Lo (羅瑋) forecast a rise in last months unemployment rate of less than 0.1 percentage points compared with the previous month.

LAYOFFS

His forecast followed a series of layoffs launched by local firms due to weak market demand, as well as merger and acquisition deals. In addition, the number of workers on unpaid leave was on the rise.

Lo’s views were supported by Hsin Ping-lung (辛炳隆), an associate professor at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of National Development, who said there is no reason to be pessimistic about the country’s unemployment rate, considering that export orders last month increased year-on-year.

Hsin forecast that any increase in last month’s jobless rate will be very slight. It will be highly unusual if the rate rises by more than 4.5 percent, he added.

UNEMPLOYMENT

He suggested that the government pay more attention to structural unemployment issues than to jobless figures.

The government should also be cautious about launching employment stimulus programs to avoid a crowding-out effect among job seekers, Hsin said.

RESTRUCTURING PLAN

Earlier this month, debt-ridden memory chip maker ProMOS Technologies Inc (茂德科技)) laid off more than 1,300 employees as part of a major restructuring plan.

Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技), the memory chip manufacturing arm of the Formosa Plastics Group (FPG, 台塑集團) conglomerate, also announced plans to let about 200 employees go and transfer an additional 400 to related operations within FPG.

NEXT MEDIA GROUP

Meanwhile, Next Media Group (壹傳媒集團), founded by Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai (黎智英), recently laid off more than 500 employees at three of its subsidiaries — Next TV Broadcasting Ltd (壹傳媒電視廣播), Next Multi-Media Entertainment Services Ltd (壹多媒體娛樂服務) and Next E-Shopping Ltd (壹購物) — after striking a deal to sell four of its media outlets.

Furthermore, Council of Labor Affairs data showed that as of Oct. 15, about 2,040 workers from 37 companies had reached agreements with their employers to take unpaid leave.

JOBLESS RATE

Lo said the jobless rate is likely to remain close to 4.5 percent until the end of the year and that the labor market can be expected to improve from the first quarter of next year.

The highest monthly unemployment figure recorded so far this year was 4.4 percent in August, when it rose by 0.09 percentage points from the previous month.